Archives for category: Music

I played guitar and sang in bands from about 1979 to 1989. I have no really outrageous stories, but here are a few I remember.

Just Say No

One time a friend and I were going to buy some LSD (ah, young and stupid). Black Pyramid, I believe.

We went to the guy’s house and he said, “you’re not gonna believe this, but I put the hits in the cellophane from a cigarette pack, put them in my wallet, and accidentally ran the wallet through the washer.”

He showed us the cellophane. There was a big black smear on it.

He said, “I don’t know if it’s any good. You can lick the cellophane and see what happens. If you feel something, just give me a few bucks.”

That night, in the van on the way to a gig, my friend, the other guitarist, and I ripped off pieces of the cellophane and licked the smear. After a half-hour or so, we all agreed we didn’t feel anything.

We got to the bar and began hauling in and setting up. Still not feeling much.

About halfway through the first set, though – holy shit.

The bass drum was breathing. The goddamned drum was breathing. My guitar was wildly out of tune (it wasn’t). In between songs I’d frantically try to tune it. It just got worst. The singer was yelling at me to hurry up.

I should note that this was in the redneckiest of redneck bars in southern Iowa. The dancing hillbillies were freaking me out.

I got through it, and learned a lesson. Water has little effect on LSD. Also, don’t take roughly the equivalent of four hits.

Drunk and Stupid Again

We had an outdoor gig once, a big barbeque or party or something. We were set to play in late afternoon. The drummer, other guitarist and I brought the equipment and got ready to set up.

But when we got there, the bassist – who had been there all day, with several kegs – was hammered. Like, ready-to-pass-out hammered. So hammered he couldn’t play, and thus we couldn’t play.

So the rest of us got drunk too and ending up leaving the equipment out in the (eventual) rain. Some of it got damaged.

What a bunch of idiots. Didn’t even get paid.

Sweet Home Shut Up

All the bands I played in played in the Midwest, so if you were a cover band, you were wise to know a Lynyrd Skynyrd song or two.

Nothing against the band, but they have (or at least had) some HARDCORE fans. I can’t remember how many bars had a resident Skynyrd expert. The night would be over, I’d be tearing down and looking forward to pancakes on the way home, and some drunk dude would be going on and on. He’d know all the details and stats about all the members. He’d seen them in concert several times. You get the picture.

NOTE: If you’re a superfan of ANY band, you can get annoying.

First Gig

The first band I was in was at 15. I, a bassist and a drummer called ourselves “Fission.” We played at the high school talent contest. Our set was Ides of March’s “Factory Band,” “Wipeout,” and Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (female drummer). I don’t think we won, but it was fun.

Our next gig was playing at the 8th grade graduation dance. So we really moved up to the big time.

I play guitar and have been in several bands, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a real “we have gigs” scenario. Ultimately, I’d like to be in a band that played original songs (I have several), but short of that, I’d play in a cover band if I got to choose the songs.  This would be my 20-song set list:


Pussywhipped – Dash Rip Rock

Mystery Date – New Duncan Imperials

Earthmover – Southern Culture On The Skids

We’re A Happy Family – Ramones

Sheep Go To Heaven – Cake

Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

Picture Book – The Kinks

When The Girls Get Here – Young Fresh Fellows

She’s A Rebel – Green Day

It’s Gonna Be A Long Night – Ween

The Beast With Five Hands – Groovie Ghoulies

Just One Drink – Jack White

Got The Time – Joe Jackson

Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis

Mess Around – Cage The Elephant

Stay Up Late – Talking Heads

All The Small Things – Blink 182

See The Constellation – They Might Be Giants

Crawling From The Wreckage – Rockpile


Auf Wiedersehen – Cheap Trick




Bad Reputation – Joan Jett

Precious – The Pretenders

6’1” – Liz Phair

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra

Because I Do – X

One Way Or Another – Blondie

Mickey – Toni Basil

Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s

Cannonball – The Breeders

Luka – Suzanne Vega

Cherry Bomb – The Runaways

Oh Nina – The Muffs

Ex’s and Oh’s – Elle King

I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked – Ida Maria

Baby Six String – Dressy Bessy

11:59 – Blondie

Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah!) – Joan Jett

Crash – The Primitives

Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin


The End – The Messengers

I’ve been kickin’ around now for 52 years (and I still have all but one of my teeth).

If I had to choose a favorite year out of all of those, I’d say it was 1994.  Here’s my breakdown of why:

1. I was seven years into my marriage – and thought it was a good relationship. (The marriage ended five years later.)

2. I’d been doing (local) stand-up comedy for four years, and was having a lot of fun with it.

3. As a punk-pop fan, three of my favorite albums were released: Smash (The Offspring), Punk In Drublic (NOFX), and Dookie (Green Day).

4. As a movie fan in general, I love: The Shawshank Redemption, The Last Seduction, and Pulp Fiction.

5. Bill “Studmuffin” Clinton had been in office a couple of years; of the nine presidents in my lifetime, I have to say he was the best. The country was at least relatively employed, and we had a surplus of cash in the coffers.

6. Beatlemania was in high gear. Wait, that was 1964.

Anyway, I look forward to my new favorite year. I’m guessing it’ll be 2175 (I plan to be cryogenically frozen, then reawakened.)

Ah yes, another favorites list…this one was hard to pin down, though.  Still very incomplete, as there are thousands upon thousands in my head.  And don’t hate me for including Journey.


As soon as you’re born, you start dying

So you might as well have a good time

Cake, Sheep Go to Heaven


It’s harder to be friends than lovers

And you shouldn’t try to mix the two

‘Cause if you do it and you’re still unhappy

Then you know that the problem is you

Liz Phair, Divorce Song


You bring the razor blade, I’ll bring the speed

Take off your coat, it’s gonna be a long night

Ween, It’s Gonna Be a Long Night


She told me to come, but I was already there

AC/DC, You Shook Me All Night Long


Go ahead, bite the Big Apple

Don’t mind the maggots

The Rolling Stones, Shattered


Put me in the hospital for nerves and then they had to commit me

You told them all I was crazy

They cut off my legs, now I’m an amputee, God damn you

Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta


I believe in this and it’s been tested by research

He who fucks nuns will later join the church

The Clash, Death or Glory


As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent

You asked for the latest party

David Bowie, Diamond Dogs


If I’m too rough, tell me

I’m so scared your little head will come off in my hands

Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies


So you stay out all night gettin’ fucked up in that rock ‘n’ roll bar

And you never get tired, ‘cause your drugs are in a little jar

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Opera Star


To get it on, I got to watch what I say

Or I’ll catch hell from women’s liberation

Aerosmith, Pandora’s Box


Don’t need no one’s opinion, don’t want no interruptions

Just shuts up long enough to reapply the suction

Stray Cats, Little Miss Prissy


White Americans, what?  Nothing better to do?

Why don’t you kick yourself out?  You’re an immigrant too

The White Stripes, Icky Thump


After ten long years they let him out of the home

Excitable boy, they all said

Then he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones

Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy


Special favors come in thirty-one flavors

We’re out of mints, pass the Life Savers

Violent Femmes, Prove My Love


We all defend the right, ya ya, children must unite

Your life is worth much more than gold

Bob Marley, Jammin’


Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around

But some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground

Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water


You know I’m going to lose, and gambling’s for fools

But that’s the way I like it, baby, I don’t wanna live forever

Motorhead, Ace of Spades


I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints

And sinners are much more fun

Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young


Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer

You may be a lover, but you ain’t no dancer

The Beatles, Helter Skelter


They got diseases like you ain’t never seen

They got a mystery blowjob that’ll turn your peter green

Frank Zappa, In France


She left me roses by the stairs

Surprises let me know she cares

Blink 182, All the Small Things


We got into a car and away we started rollin’

I said “how much you pay for this?”

She said “nothing, man, it’s stolen”

Dead Milkmen, Punk Rock Girl


Somebody stuck their fingers in the president’s ears

And it wasn’t too much later they came out with Johnson’s Wax

They Might Be Giants, Purple Toupee


I was drunk the day my momma got out of prison

And I went to pick her up in the rain

But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck

She got runned over by a damned old train

David Allen Coe, You Never Even Call Me By My Name


You want it all, but you can’t have it

It’s in your face, but you can’t grab it

Faith No More, Epic


I got a stiff reputation with a stick like a rock

My kids are confused and my wife is in shock

Alice Cooper, Prettiest Cop on the Block


Just wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims

And strap your hands ‘cross my engines

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run


Though he was only five-foot-three, girls could not resist his stare

Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole

Modern Lovers, Pablo Picasso


The chief of police kept the crime off the streets

But deep in his heart, we all knew he felt differently

We all knew he was an anarchist

Cracker, Movie Star


If it wasn’t for date rape, I’d never get laid

Sublime, Date Rape


If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

Rush, Freewill


Why don’t you all just f…ade away?

The Who, My Generation


She looks like the Sunday comics, she thinks she’s Brenda Starr

Her nose job is real atomic, all she needs is an old knife scar

Blondie, Rip Her to Shreds


Though my eyes could see, I still was a blind man

Though my mind could think, I still was a madman

Kansas, Carry On My Wayward Son


You treat me like a dirty clown

You’re always kickin’ my dog around

Oingo Boingo, Goodbye-Goodbye


And redneckers, they get us pissed

And stupid stuff, it makes us shout

Pixies, U-Mass


And the sign said, “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls”

Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence


Some folks are born silver spoon in hand

Lord, don’t they help themselves

But when the taxman comes to the door

Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son


With fingernails that shine like justice

And a voice that is dark like tinted glass

Cake, Short Skirt/Long Jacket


Freedom’s just another word for “nothing left to lose”

Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby McGee


I like you so much better when you’re naked

I like me so much better when you’re naked

Ida Maria, I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked


Everything you’ve ever said is brilliant

Anything you wanna do is fine with me

Too Much Joy, Crush Story


The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think

Oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?

Pink Floyd, Have a Cigar


This trickle-down theory has left all these pockets empty

Uncle Tupelo, Postcard


I’m friends with the president, I’m friends with the pope

We’re all makin’ a fortune sellin’ daddy’s dope

The Ramones, We’re a Happy Family


Don’t ask me what I think of you

I might not give the answer that you want me to

Fleetwood Mac, Oh Well


Reese Witherspoon, she’s the prom queen

Bill gates, captain of the chess team

Jack Black the clown, Brad Pitt the quarterback

I’ve seen it all before – I want my money back

Bowling For Soup, High School Never Ends


Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying

And dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun

John Cougar Mellencamp, Authority Song


When they kick in your front door, how you gonna come?

With your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun?

The Clash, Guns of Brixton


She don’t spare the child, she don’t spoil the rod

She just gets rich ‘cause she works for God

Young Fresh Fellows, Amy Grant


It’s better to burn out than to fade away

Neil Young, My My, Hey Hey


She holds the shotgun while you do-se-do

She want one man made of Hercules and Cyrano

Spin Doctors, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong


If I lost my mind, would you help me find it?

Soul Asylum, Spinnin’


Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday

Then I’ll get on my knees and pray we don’t get fooled again

The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again


Now I know I’m being used

That’s okay man, ‘cause I like the abuse

The Offspring, Self Esteem


Some will win, some will lose

Some are born to sing the blues

Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’


They screamed when the Beatles sang

And they laughed when the King fell down the stairs

Oh, they should’ve known better

The Police, Born in the 50’s


Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans

Squeeze, If I Didn’t Love You


One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter

The Replacements, I Don’t Know


Bottom line’s been snorted, bottom card’s been dealt

Old 97’s, Champaign, Illinois


I try to rock her in my cradle, I try to knock her out

I try to cram her back in my mouth

Veruca Salt, Seether


I feel stupid and contagious

Here we are now, entertain us

Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit


Momma knows, but she don’t care, she’s got her worries too

Seven kids and a phony affair, and the rent is due

Ian Hunter, Cleveland Rocks


Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run

There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven


This is what we’ve waited for

This is it, boys, this is war

Nina, 99 Red Balloons


You wanna party with the lights on

Come on, I like it dark

Sleater-Kinney, You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun


Called my mom from a pay phone, said “I’m down to my last”

She said “I put you through college, now go call your dad”

Cracker, Eurotrash Girl


I might like you better if we slept together

Romeo Void, Never Say Never


Hello, I’m sorry, I lost myself

I think I thought you were someone else

R.E.M., Pop Song 89


Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space

Steppenwolf, Born to Be Wild


Sneaking in the back door with dirty magazines

Now your mother wants to know what all those stain on your jeans

Buzzcocks, Orgasm Addict


Performing on a stool, we’ve a sight to make you drool

Seven virgins and a mule, keep it cool, keep it cool

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Karn Evil 9


Seems like everybody’s shakin’ ‘cause the big one’s ‘bout to fall

I’m just tryin’ to hold it steady while I piss on the wall

The J. Geils Band, Piss on the Wall


You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have a clue

If you did you’d find yourselves doin’ the same thing too

Judas Priest, Breaking the Law


I can take humiliation, and hurtful comments on the bus

I’m just praying by the weekend I can earn enough for us

XTC, Earn Enough for Us


Never fall in love ‘til you go through her purse

The Vandals, (But Then) She Spoke


Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry

Black Sabbath, Paranoid


But if you’re troubled and hurt, what you got under your shirt

Will make them pay for the things that they did

My Chemical Romance, Teenagers


Gimme a dollar, and I’ll buy you a beer

You ain’t bad-lookin’, and you smell good from here

New Duncan Imperials, Mystery Date


When you idle at the stoplight, better get the signal right

The Cars, Double Life


And I can’t decide which one I love the most

The flesh and blood or the pale, smiling ghost

Robyn Hitchcock, My Wife and My Dead Wife


And the waitress is practicing politics

As the businessman slowly gets stoned

And they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it’s better than drinking alone

Billy Joel, Piano Man


Bits of me are scattered in the trees and in the hedges

Rockpile, Crawling from the Wreckage


So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?

So you think you can love me and leave me to die?

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody


Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you

Nirvana, Territorial Pissings


When I woke up, mom and dad are rollin’ on the couch

Rollin’ numbers, rock and rollin,’ got my KISS records out

Cheap Trick, Surrender

I’ve liked punk rock since I first heard The Ramones and The Clash when I was about 13.  It’s my favorite genre of music, maybe because it’s my favorite kind to play on guitar, but probably because it’s just so damned energetic and fun.  I also enjoy good alternative country, reggae, hard rock and Celtic rock, but I’m always in the mood for punk (or any of its sub-genres). Here’s a very incomplete list of some of my favorite punk songs.


Bitchin’ Camaro (Dead Milkmen)

Starts out as a kind of slow, jazzy, goofy conversation, but kicks in about 2 minutes in.  The Dead Milkmen are a very entertaining band.


“I ran over some old lady one night at the county fair

And I didn’t get arrested because my dad’s the mayor”


Hot Dog in a Hallway (NOFX)

Just a little ditty about being in love with a big woman who’s – shall we say – rather cavernous down south.  One of my favorite bands.


“It’s like feeding a tic-tac to a whale, that’s why I love her”


I’ve Got an Ape Drape (The Vandals)

A wonderful tribute to the mullet.  I like The Vandals because they always go for the joke.


“I’ve been growing that one braid back there for years

I’ve had it since the first time I saw Queensryche”


The Gauntlet (Dropkick Murphys)

Not sure what this is about, other than some sort of violence.  The DMs can rock pretty hard when they put their minds to it.


“You could sit here scared to move, or we could take them by surprise”


Basket Case (Green Day)

I got a promo copy of “Dookie” for a 30th birthday gift, and have always loved this song.  Sometimes I adopt it as my theme of life.


“I went to a whore, he said my life’s a bore

And quit my whining ‘cuz it’s bringing her down”


Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (The Ramones)

I wore out the Rocket to Russia album in junior high.  The band is just so addictive.


“Well, New York City really has it all”


Joanie Loves Johnny (Screeching Weasel)

My favorite Chicago punkers.  It’s the only song I’ve heard that really satirizes the sterilized wholesomeness of the TV show “Happy Days.”


“Pinky Tuscadero’s stewed, Fonzie’s all fucked up on ‘ludes”


Career Opportunities (The Clash)

Just a great song by one of the all-time great rock bands.  Let’s face it, nobody really WANTS to have to work.


“Do you wanna make tea for the BBC?

Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?”


EMI (Sex Pistols)

A wonderful middle finger to The Pistols’ former record label.  Oh, and it rocks, too.


“And blind acceptance is a sign of stupid fools who stand in line”


Oh Nina (The Muffs)

I just want to go on the record and say I want to have, like 10,000 of Kim Shattuck’s babies.  She certainly can scream.


“Oh Nina, a ballerina, she is a queer

And she knows you never have a clue”


Joker in the Pack (The Adicts)

Just a fun song by a band that dresses up like the droogies from “A Clockwork Orange.”


“I make them laugh a lot, I make them accept me”


TV Party (Black Flag)

A favorite when I was in college and the Repo Man soundtrack had just come out.  Good party song.


“I wouldn’t be without my TV for a day (or even a minute)

Don’t even bother to use my brain anymore (there’s nothing left in it)”


When the Shit Hits the Fan (Circle Jerks)

Really captures the socio-economic turmoil of the early 80s.


“We just get by however we can

We all gotta duck when the shit hits the fan”


Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys)

Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome really rock out on this one, probably their most popular song.


“I got my devil machine, got my electronic dream”


Let’s Lynch the Landlord (Dead Kennedys)

One of the great early L.A.-area punk bands. You won’t find a much more charismatic singer than Jello Biafra.


“I tell ‘em ‘turn on the water,’ I tell ‘em ‘turn on the heat’

Tells me ‘all you ever do is complain,’ then they search the place when I’m not there”


Baby!! (Downtown Brown)

Saw these guys a few years ago and was quite impressed.  This is my most-played song on my iTunes.


“Baby, baby, you rock my shit; my shit gets rocked when you’re around it”


Burning Too (Fugazi)

Fugazi’s just an all-around fantastic band.  This one pops into my head quite often.


“Anytime but now, anywhere but here, anyone but me”


Beast with Five Hands (Groovie Ghoulies)

Just a little song about being in love with a girl with – you guessed it — five hands.


“You really make me happy, you really make me sing

But I don’t think we’ll marry, ‘cuz I can’t afford five rings”


Lipstick (Guttermouth)

You just don’t hear enough songs about a teenager falsely accusing his mother of abuse and sending her away to jail.


“You’re worthless, you’re lazy, you’re stupid, a little overweight”


Die, All Right! (The Hives)

Yeah, Swedish punk!


“I filled my pockets now I might as well (die)

I found the backdoor out of teenage hell”


I Apologize (Husker Du)

I first became aware Husker Du in college.  I’d never heard such a distorted guitar.


“Now we sit around staring at the walls, we don’t do anything at all

Take out the garbage, maybe, but the dishes don’t get done”


Sound System (Operation Ivy)

This one’s very difficult not to dance to.


“To resist despair in this world is what it is, what it is, what it is to be free”


Bro Hymn (Pennywise)

A great tribute to the memory of the band’s bassist, Jason Thirsk.  Just try not to chant along.


“While you were here the fun was never-ending, laugh a minute was the only beginning”


Punk Rock Girls (The Queers)

Like Screeching Weasel, this band cheerfully acknowledges their tremendous Ramones influence.


“Leather jackets, stupid boyfriends, poor report cards, life is just a ball”


The Pope Is Packed (Rats of Unusual Size)

I don’t know much about this band, but heard the song many years ago and still enjoy it.  It’s about John Paul II arming himself after being shot in 1981.


“Nice enough at Sunday mass, but piss him off and he’ll kick your ass”


Suspect Device (Stiff Little Fingers)

From the opening riff, this song’s hard to get out of your head.


“They make us feel indebted for saving us from hell

And then they put us through it, it’s time the bastards fell”


Search and Destroy (The Stooges)

From one of the most aptly-titled albums ever, “Raw Power.”  I’m glad Iggy’s still at it.


“Soul radiation in the dead of night, love in the middle of a firefight”


I Saw Your Mommy… (Suicidal Tendencies)

A little dark, but funny, song about finding a kid’s mom dead in a very bloody fashion, and accusing the kid of having her killed.


“But the thing I liked seeing the best were all the rodents using her hair as a nest”


12 X U (Wire)

This one’s a little light on the lyrics, but I love the music.


“Saw you in a mag, kissing a man”


Because I Do (X)

X was another of the great L.A.-based bands.  Good song about being unhappily married.


“I am the married kind, the kind that said ‘I do,’ forever searching for someone new”


Oh Bondage!  Up Yours! (X-Ray Spex)

A song about, well, bondage, sung by one of the great early punk singers, Poly Styrene.


“Trash me, crash me, beat me till I fall

I want to be a victim for you all.”